So there's this .gif I love . . .
I first saw this a few years ago captioned thusly: "There are two kinds of people in this world . . ."
That caption has stuck with me as much as the actual .gif has. I think about it a few times a week. Who runs toward their fear? Who wants to ride a rollercoaster, much less jump out of a plane, wrestle alligators, or attend a live taping of Dr. Phil? Not I.
And yet, I've been wrestling with fiction again. The same novel I came a hand's breadth from selling in 2010—God, it's such a long story; buy me a beer—still claws at me, and I've decided I'm going to finish what is now my third rewrite of it as soon as I can, because I want to move on to writing other stories. This one's had its turn, and it needs to get off the swing set.
So I was writing away tonight, and it was one of those kinds of sessions where you're doing a word count after every paragraph—torturous. Nothing seemed to want to come. I'm in a weird sequel spot in the big, creamy middle of the book, about 25,000 words in, and that's where every fictionist eventually gets mired down.
And I was writing out what I knew needed to be the next little bit, and suddenly—I'm not big on plotting much out ahead of time beyond the broadest of strokes, and I don't know how this thing ends yet—a plot development hits me that I didn't know was there. And it has to do with so much of my own trauma, stuff I spent years in therapy processing. And I knew—knew—this was where this story had to go. This was where this story had been begging me to take it all along.
I struggle with fiction in part because I suck at putting my characters in real peril. Oh, but peril beckoned. Peril, in this case, demanded, and I'm ready to oblige. But this means a lot of processing of old, bad stuff for me—stuff I feel pretty settled and okay about but that still isn't pleasant—and I feel a little like both of the two kids in this .gif above.
Run away to a safer, cleaner, more well-lighted room where terrifying dolls fear to tread? Or run at this fucker full-speed and punt it all to shit?
There are two types of people in this world.
For today, I know which I choose. Today, I lace up my shoes and run.